“Mardi Gras” aka “Shrove Tuesday” aka “Fat Tuesday” aka “Pancake Tuesday” aka the last day before Easter to go ham wild, is a day like no other in these United States. What started as a day of “fat eating” in preparation for the fasting Lenten season, has devolved into a day of glutinous gorging on all things sinful. Junk food, beads, alcoholic beverages, and general debauchery culminate on this innocuous February Tuesday, followed by, what is sure to not be a successful “fast” for the majority of “religious” Americans. Fret not Catholic guilt ridden denizens of Northside, all that imbibing is nothing to cause your head to hang shame. We should celebrate those that live life to the fullest and honor those that ingest inhuman amounts of sin, at least for one night.
America has a rich history of drinking legends, known for their ability to knock back more than a few. People who would surely would have carried a night of Fat Tuesday drinking into a lushful day of Ash Wednesday boozing. These liver hardened men and women surely knew how to get the best out of a night of Fat Tuesday celebration.
Dorothy Parker, sharp witted satirist and poet, could shred a 1920’s man’s self-confidence while simultaneously drinking him under the table. She led a wild and fiercely dedicated life to both the drink and left-wing activism. A champion of her own destiny, and known for not giving a damn, she is oft remembered for such lyrical gems “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think” and “One more drink, and I’d have been under the host.”.
Ulysses S. Grant, well known in present day at high schools around the ‘States for destroying the southern rebellion, was better known in his day for single handedly destroying bottles of Old Crow whiskey. This glorious general of the drink, was so often polishing off every bottle of whiskey in sight, that the other union generals would often go tattletale to President Lincoln. Lincoln, a man of strategic wisdom, had but one reply “I wish you would tell me what brand of whiskey Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”.
This next hero of American culture, has no equal the world over for the shear amount of liquid alcohol he could consume. No human has ever come close, nor should anyone wishing to continue to live ever try. A master of the ring, of humor, and of functional alcoholism, I am of course referring to the late, great Andre the Giant. This benevolent demigod of wrestling entertainment clocked in at a massive 7’5” and 600lbs. He set the world record for drinking 119 12oz beers in 6 hours (that is a beer every 3 minutes, without stopping). It took him 2 litres of vodka to “feel warm and fuzzy” on the inside. This is a man who would polish of several quarts of ale before each wrestling match. This behemoth, this gentle giant, would rack up five-digit bar tabs on a regular basis. He did not like to drink alone, and would often cover the bar tab of anyone joining him to tie a couple hundred on.
This Fat Tuesday, live it up a little. Go out on a Northside bar crawl and take in a little a culture. Have a moderate drink or two, and remember the heroes that came before you. Because no matter how ashy your brain feels on March 1st, just know, you surely didn’t drink as much as that guy.
This post was originally written by Bret Kollmann Baker for The Northsider in 2017.